The NBA has been sending players to the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame since 1959, when George Mikan entered. Who are the 50 best players not enshrined?
(Updated Sept. 5, 2019) — The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame: For a professional basketball player, it is Mecca, the place of the highest honors, a shrine for those generally accepted to be the best of the best, particularly for NBA players.
According to the Hall’s website, a player must be fully retired for three years before being eligible for enshrinement. This change was made in December 2017.
So who are the 50 greatest players in NBA history who don’t have a spot in Springfield, Mass.?
In April, the 2019 induction class was named and in terms of NBA players, it was sort of a cleanup of a bunch of worthy candidates who had been waiting for a very long time.
This year’s player inductees include:
- Carl Braun, a star from the early days of the NBA with the New York Knicks
- Vlade Divac, the longtime Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings big man who was one of the league’s European pioneers
- Bobby Jones, a defensive standout from the Philadelphia 76ers from the late 1970s and early 1980s.
- Sidney Moncrief, winner of the first two Defensive Player of the Year awards and a two-way threat for the Milwaukee Bucks for more than a decade.
- Jack Sikma, who helped lead the Seattle SuperSonics to their only NBA title
- Paul Westphal, an All-NBA performer with the Phoenix Suns who picked up a championship ring as a young reserve with the Boston Celtics
To be considered for this list, a player has to have already achieved eligibility by this year.
So next year’s group of first-time eligibles — a star-studded group that includes three recently retired legends in Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett — are not included here.
Other players eligible to be considered for the first time in 2020 includes Elton Brand, Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudemire, so we might be discussing these players for awhile.
The Hall inducted its first class in 1959 and included one of the first NBA superstars, Minneapolis Lakers center George Mikan and the current building in Springfield has been open since 2002.
So you may be wondering: Why Springfield?
Springfield was chosen because the game was first played on the campus of Springfield College when a physical education teacher named James Naismith showed the new game to a class of 18 students, according to the Hall’s website.
The NBA and its predecessor, the Basketball Association of America, have been around since the BAA’s launch in 1946 and its subsequent merger with the National Basketball League in 1949.
And with that, our list of the 50 greatest NBA players not in the Hall of Fame begins.